Bible Question:

My goal is to clearly prove that the prophecies about Jesus were known before any similar mythological pagan stories were written. I am trying to refute the claim that the pagan Egyptians had mythological gods comparable with Jesus but long before He was born. In other words, the story about Jesus was copied from mythology. I have been told that the Egyptians had similar hieroglyphics from about 3500 years B.C. I have also seen websites that state that the prophecies about Jesus' birth were penned about 4,000 B.C. To me that would be evidence that these stories are just variations on the first true story/prophecies about Jesus. I have found a few statements that allude to these facts but no conclusive evidence as of yet. Can you please direct me to any info about the dates these prophecies were written or any other info that would help me in my quest?

Bible Answer:

Your supposition and conclusion are correct. The first prophecy in the Bible about the coming of a Messiah (Jesus Christ) is found in Genesis 3:15.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel. Gen 3:15 (NAS95S)

The One

This statement was spoken by God to the serpent who was possessed by Satan (see Gen. 3:14). When God referred to “her seed,” that is, Eve’s seed, God was referring to the future Messiah. The Hebrew word for “seed” is masculine singular. This implies that the seed was to be a male. But the most amazing part of God’s statement is the reference to “her seed.” Throughout the scriptures only the male has “seed” or “sperm,” and never the woman. This passage indicates that God revealed to the original couple created on the earth that a male child would be born by a supernatural birth. He would be virgin born. He would be The One – the future Messiah. Later in Genesis 22:18, God repeated the promise to Abraham and this time used “seed” in the normal sense.

In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice. Gen 22:18 (NAS95S)

Galatians 3:16 tells us that the word “seed” referred to Jesus Christ. Jesus would be a legal descendant of Abraham according to Jewish law but not physically, since He would be born miraculously without a human father, of a woman.

The Timeline

The Genesis 3:15 prophecy occurred sometime before 4,000 B.C. How can we determine that this date is valid? One would begin by analyzing genealogies in the Bible starting in Genesis 5:1-32 and noting how old each person was when they gave birth to their first child and successively adding the dates. For an example, visit the previous question “Where did Noah come from?” Other genealogical passages can be found in Genesis 11:10-32 and Genesis 25:12-34. Other genealogies can be found throughout the Bible, such as in Ruth 4, and 1 Chronicles 1-9. But many of the genealogies do not give years. At some point one will need to correlate genealogical data with historical dates. In the 1600s, the Rev. Archbishop James Ussher published the Annals of the World. The book has been reprinted recently.[1] In the book, he provides his own date as to the time of Adam’s and Eve’s existence. He computed a date of 4,004 B.C. Ussher’s chronology is susceptible to error because the genealogies did not always present all of the children and there are gaps. More than likely Adam and Eve were created before 4,004 B.C.

Egyptologists have computed dates for the history of Egypt using the same technique. They have added the successive reigns of the ancient pharaohs provided by the Egyptian high priest Manetho.[2] Most of our information about Manetho comes from the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus[3] and two ancient Christian authors: Julius Africanus[4] and Eusebius of Ceasera [5] since there are no surviving documents from the high priest. They also wrote about Jesus Christ. Julius Africanus states that Manetho’s chronology indicates the Egyptian dynasties extended back to 5,500 B.C. The prevailing view among Egyptologists is that the date should be around 3,100 B.C. This would put the Egyptian dynasties at least 1,000 years after Adam and Eve.

Garbled News

Once Adam and Eve knew about the wonderful and amazing news of a promised Messiah who would rescue humanity from their sin, the news would have spread verbally among the family members and successively to their children and to their children’s children. The news would have spread gradually around the world as the population spread. The early chapters of Genesis document that only a small portion of the civilization believed and followed God. This means that the accuracy of the news would have been more easily garbled and distorted with time. The good news about a future Messiah would have been communicated among the nations and throughout the world. The story would have changed as it was improperly communicated and we should not be surprised to find stories of similar “legends” in different regions and cultures of the world. For example, Graham Hancock has documented an extensive list of world-wide flood stories [6] that have a common theme of a single family that escape death by a boat. There are variations in the stories, but the origin is obvious.

Doubt Among Us

The earliest information about the promised Messiah would have been communicated verbally. As time passed, it would also have been recorded in written form. Your experience is a common one. Critics of the Bible rarely desire to consider seriously the possibility that religious legends of other cultures derived from a common pre-existing source, since they are looking for proof that the Bible is fiction. It is unbelief looking for support. It is also possible that prejudice precludes such an obviously objective consideration. To consider Manetho’s chronology to be credible and then ignore the other chronologies is simply prejudice. The biblical chronology supports a viewpoint that the common stories about a coming Messiah came from an earlier time and family – Adam and Eve.

Conclusion:

Since Adam and Eve received the initial prophecy of a coming Messiah who would be virgin born, it follows that the Egyptian mytholgies mimicked the real propheices. Those who want to reverse history have concluded that the biblical record is false. How can we who are living 2,000 years later or more conclude that we know more than those who lived back then? Scripture sums up the struggle we face today with these words,

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. Col 2:8 (NAS95S)

References:

1. James Ussher. The Annals of the World. Master Books. 2004.

2. Graham Hancock. Finger-Prints of the Gods. Crown Trade Publications. 1995, p. 382-383.

3. William Whiston. Against Apion. Josephus. Kregel Publications. 1960.

4. Julius Africanus. The Extant Fragments of the Five Books of the Chronography of Julius Africanus. Ante-Nicene Fathers. vol. 6, pp. 130-139.

5. Eusebius. The Chronicle.

6. Graham Hancock, Ibid., pp. 187-199.

Reference Links:

Where did Noah come from?
Peace With God